|Photo: Sanjay Parikh|
I always had a problem believing people when they said "Dreams do come true" because this mostly comes from those who already reached their goals, who seem to be far away from where I am at right now. However, this past month taught me that they were right and that I was wrong. Dreams do come true. In fact, Stef and I were living the dream. The life we wanted to live.
When we went to those Shinedown shows in June, I already thought that this was it - it wouldn't get any better or closer. That night in Groningen seemed to be the top of what I could ever get. Again, I was wrong.
We started out with this crazy idea: "Let's do 10 shows all over Europe on this tour." So we bought tickets, we planned our travels, we planned our stays at different cities. People kept telling me that was insane. I didn't care. I had the chance to do this, I wouldn't let that slip away.
The first show in Manchester seems ages ago now. No idea why, but I was actually really nervous before. It had only been three months since I had last seen Shinedown, but it felt different. With every show we did, this Shinedown Roadtrip evolved into what might have been the most wonderful, most insane and all in all best time I ever had. Each show was better than the one before, each travel had me more excited. I had gone through every possible emotion on this trip. I met so many wonderful people, saw beautiful places and I still can't really cope with everything that happened to me.
|Photo: Sanjay Parikh|
This has been so special and precious and now that it has come to an end, I don't really know what all of this is about now. I don't understand how these last weeks could actually be my life. I don't know how this could be or why I deserve this, but I am very very grateful for every second of it. I'd never imagined something like this to be possible for me - but this has been my reality and I still feel so very priviledged that I could live this dream for a month now. I'm circling around this, sorry.
This Shinedown Roadtrip showed me that Shinedown really is family. Shinedown and their crew. I am about to say a few words about some of the people who made this whole experience so very special and I know that I repeat myself in this. I just want to somehow express how grateful I am, but no words are strong enough to describe how I feel.
Adam, Lewis and Luke of Press to Meco: You went up on stage every night and put on a great show, no matter if the audience is into it or not. You are amazing people and seeing you all these times made me overly happy. I was looking forward to your set all the time and think you are very talented. Thank you for being the kindest and funniest people. I'll see you in Germany next time.
Brian, Adam and everyone else in and around Starset: What you put on when you are on stage is insane. You have definitely won a new fan in me and I'll sure come back to see you headlining a show. Thank you for all the times you put a camera right in my face, Brian. Hope you could get some great shots of Stef and me losing it. Thank you for not killing me with the drumstick, Adam. And in general for being such great people.
John, Hoogie, Sparky, Primo and everyone else in the Shinedown Crew: Thank you for everything you do at the shows. Thank you for making all of this possible. Thank you for taking care of us. With you I always felt safe and very welcome. Thank you for being so nice to us even though we were just standing in the way sometimes. Thank you for talking to us and sharing your stories with us. Thank you for throwing picks at our heads, for photobombing our pictures and for all the fun we had with you guys and girls. You are the real heroes and we appreciate and love you for what you do and who you are. Thank you for making us feel like we belong to your family. It means so much.
Sanjay: I hope you know how wonderful you are. Your pictures are amazing and your work is inspiring. Because of you I actually really want to try for the application for photography studies next year. You are always so sweet and kind to us and I really don't know how to thank you for all of this. The world needs more people like you, really. Thank you for being in my life now.
Matt: You know all of this already. You're family, you really are. And I really hope you're alright and that things play out the way you want them to. You helped me more than you might know and I can't imagine going through life without you anymore. Thank you for making me feel loved, safe, and wanted. You deserve nothing but the best. My world is better now because of you. I love you much.
Zach: When I was feeling down in 2016, you were the one to actually made me feel like I wasn't invisible to the world, like people did care about me. This year, you showed me all of this again because I forgot about it. Thank you for doing this, for being over here even though it's hard for you. The rest is in the letters. Thank you, so much, for everything.
Barry: Your positivity is so contagious that I really wish you were around more often. Thank you for taking care of Stef and me, especially her. Thank you for all the fun, the laughter and funny faces. You are a legend.
Eric: Your strength helps other people to get through their darkness and this is something overly important. You are inspiring to many and I am grateful to know you. Your talent is insane and I believe there's not one thing on earth you wouldn't be brilliant at. Thank you for appreciating us so much, for always showing some love, even when you're not feeling well. Thank you, really.
Brent: I have no idea how I deserve to know someone like you, to have you in my life. You did so much for Stef and me during these last weeks and you did so much for me earlier this year already. I just want to give something back to you and I hope there will be a way that I can make up for all of this one day. I could write another letter about all of these things, so I'll try to keep it short. Thank you for everything, always. It means the world to me. I love you.
Stef: ... I can't believe it's not even a year that we know each other because it feels like you've been with me all my life. And I wish I met you earlier, before you had to go through all you've been through. I wish I could've been there to tell you that: YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE NEEDED. You understand me like no other and I am so happy and grateful we could do this together. I hope you know how much you deserve to be happy. I love you. And you will always have a place here. Never forget how important you are, to me, to many others, to the world.
Thank you to everyone who made this possible for me, to my family and friends who were cheering for this even more than I did sometimes, to the wonderful people I met along the way. I love you. Thank you.
It's never goodbye. It's just 'till next time.